Real trophies

Earlier this week, Tottenham Hotspurs’ coach Mauricio Pochettino said that “Our objective is to try to win the Premier League and the Champions League. For me, two real trophies”.

This column wholeheartedly agrees with Pochettino’s ambition. We only want to write about real trophies too. In the middle of the week, this scribe successfully avoided the temptation of jotting down a few lines about the Copa del Rey: nothing more boring than its two-legged, extremely uneven early stages. Continue reading “Real trophies”

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The Benzema Debate

In the overblown controversy between Gary Lineker and Zinedine Zidane over Karim Benzema’s talents (or lack thereof), some have missed the obvious. One of them is a pundit doing his job: opinions on the game, including his personal preferences about players, even if he does not watch them play that often. The other is a coach also doing his job: defending his squad no matter what, especially against any outside critics.

Debates about Benzema’s right to start for Real Madrid begin with a very misleading fact: he wears the number 9 shirt. Continue reading “The Benzema Debate”

Fires in the east

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So you want entertainment ?  Look no further than Betis, Real Sociedad and Valencia.  Betis and Real’s nine and eight games respectively have so far produced a whacking 72 goals, each side involved in 36, in their own net or in that of their opponent.  Valencia are close behind on 35 but remain undefeated, so we’d better give them the crown. Valencia – wot?  You mean they’re actually doing well again?  They are indeed, and the interesting thing is that nobody saw it coming.
Continue reading “Fires in the east”

UEFA Virus?

Preview of La Liga’s 9th week

La Liga’s ninth week looks like an easy one in terms of predictions. Beware, though. Much has been said about the FIFA virus and the effect of international weeks on the performance of top teams the following weekend, but the UEFA virus also exists, especially in the case of Europa League participants. Continue reading “UEFA Virus?”

Michel, male manipulation, and bonkers Betis…..

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Funny guy, José Miguel González Martín del Campo – better known as Michel and currently on most betting slips as the next coach who will be drawing unemployment benefit in Spain.  Well, he probably doesn’t need to draw his next wage slip from the state, having been employed for the last seven months by Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani, who’s not without a penny or two. But he’s entitled to, if he wants. He’s signed a contract until June 2018, so there’ll be a decent whack of severance pay if he’s shown the door after the team’s latest 0-2 defeat at home to the mighty Leganés.  Then again, one should not poke fun at the visitors, the victory being their third away from home this season, giving them a possible sniff of Europe and sixth place in the league as I tap at the keyboards on Sunday night. Continue reading “Michel, male manipulation, and bonkers Betis…..”

La Liga to the rescue

Preview of La Liga’s 8th week

For many of us, football takes up an inordinate amount of space and time in our lives. We devote hours and days to following news, watching matches and analysing results, no matter whether it is midweek or weekend, day or night, South American qualifiers for the World Cup or a Premier League match between two struggling sides on a rainy night, perhaps in Stoke.

However, sometimes real life yells out, shows you its uglier face, takes that mental space back and sends football back to what it should be: fantastic entertainment that deserves our attention only every once in a while. Continue reading “La Liga to the rescue”

Isco or Iniesta?

The homework is done. After their 3-0 victory over Albania, Spain have qualified for their eleventh World Cup in a row. Their last group match, away against Israel on Monday, will allow Lopetegui to give quality minutes to representatives of his under-21 squad, some of whom have already shown that they can deliver in the top international level as well as they did when they played for the Basque coach in Spain’s youth teams. Continue reading “Isco or Iniesta?”